All twining vines grow either clockwise -- that is, turning to the right -- or counterclockwise. The growing tip of a vine always heads toward the sky. Unlike a tree sapling that goes on a fairly straight course, however, a young vine grows in a circular motion.
If you know something about vines, it may affect the choice of what you buy and where to plant it.
One class of clingers climbs by aerial roots. In other words, they sprout from a viny stem when it touches a surface on which to climb.
If the vine you like is the twining variety, don't try to grow it on a wall.
Provide something suitable for climbing -- from strings to a sturdy pole, trellis, or large mesh. Also remember never to plant a vine where it will climb on a young tree. The coils will strangle the tree at worst, or at least deform it. Mature trees are less vulnerable.
Further, do not try to force a vine around a pole or climbing surface. It must find its own way.
One of the more popular woody vines is ampelopsis, which is related to the grape family. It has attractive pealike fruits, which at first resemble a pale lilac blossom, but then change to a bright green, and finally black.
While this hardy vine may be a bit slow at first, it usually makes more rapid growth as it gets older.
Trumpet vine is the more colorful of the climbers and is a hardy perennial. It has a glorious display of red and orange trumpet- shaped flowers.
These flaming blossoms are borne in clusters at the tips of the branches. The vine is well adapted for covering walls and rockwork. It also may be grown as a cover over an old tree stump or on a stout support several feet high.
By pinching it off frequently when it reaches the top, you encourage it to become bushy. Hummingbirds are always attracted to the trumpet vine. It is the state flower of Kentucky.
Another colorful vine is the bittersweet, whose orange and scarlet fruits add a vivid note to the fall landscape. The berrylike capsules reach their full development in September and remain on the stems all winter unless eaten by the birds.
If gathered and dried on the branches before frost, they become hard and durable and will retain the bright freshness of their coloring for several years. The plants may produce perfect male and female flowers on separate plants or even on the same plant. If a plant has male flowers only, it will not produce fruit.
Plant a number of vines near one another to obtain good pollinizers so as to get plenty of berries.
Bittersweet often outdoes a kitten or dog that plays with its own tail by twisting its stems together -- often into a rope of great strength. It does not climb the way the friendly ivy does, however, but it has the constricting power of the python. It will wind and twine about a sapling with such persistent strength that the young tree is often destroyed.
The bittersweet is somewhat rambling in habit rather than tall-climbing, and it's often found growing wild over low walls and old fences.
There are many species of clematis. The most popular variety for general culture is the Japanese with its large flowers, plus the scarlet clematis.
The soil for clematis should be well drained and of a light, loamy texture. Keep the soil enriched by heavy applications of manure, which should be thoroughly spaded in. The clematis dislikes limited root space and shows it with poor-size flowers and few of them.
It also likes lime, which should be added at planting time as well as occasionally during the growing season. Be sure to dig the lime into the soil without disturbing the roots. Most clematises prefer full sunshine, but the roots should be shaded by a tree or other plants. Clematis also requires large amounts of water.
The hardiest variety of English ivy, the Baltic, is especially good for covering the walls of stone houses, as well as stone walls, because it clings tightly to the surface.
Winter and spring are the most injurious times of a year for ivy. Also, it is more tender in its young stages of growth.
If protected with evergreen boughs for several winters, however, t he plants should survive.